There is a very strong link between our sense of smell and our emotions, and particularly with attraction. At this time of year the shops and media are filled with cartoon love hearts and boxes of chocolate, but really our sense of smell can be so much more important when it comes to love.
Our sense of smell is connected to the emotional centre in the brain, conjuring up emotions and feelings much more quickly than any of the other senses. The way we smell can be incredibly important when it comes to love - and that doesn’t only mean the deodorant or expensive perfume we decide to wear. Our bodies naturally produce pheromones and scent which can be attractive or unattractive to a potential mate.
Studies have shown that we subconsciously use a person’s scent to determine not only whether they are healthy but also whether their DNA would be compatible with our own for creating healthy offspring. As well as this, there is the link between a mother and her newborn baby, who are often bonded by scent. A newborn will generally feel comforted and secure when they can smell their mother - which is why it’s sometimes suggested mothers place an item of their clothing next to a restless baby at night.
As February is the month of love, here are five things about love you may not know:
1. Falling in love is as addictive as some drugs.
When we fall in love this creates a dopamine response in our brains, similar to that created in the mind of a drug user or a smoker. It triggers the same rush of happiness that is strong enough to form an addiction. When you stop to think about it, that does actually make sense from an evolutionary perspective; that heady rush of feelings is what makes us want to spend more time with a person.
2. Love really is blind!
The old saying that love is blind is actually a scientific fact. That blindness we experience where our new lover can do no wrong, is an evolutionary trait that allows us to move forward in our relationship and onto the “attachment stage” so that we can go on and have children - thus ensuring the survival of the species. This is why we often don’t notice a new partner’s irritating little habits until much later in a relationship, by which point we are already attached to them. If you noticed it on the second date, you might not get to the attachment stage.
3. We tend to fall in love with a person similar to ourselves
People often fall in love with a person with similar facial features, hair colour and even eye colour. Even more strangely, we are more likely to fall in love with someone with a similar metabolic rate, lung volume and even ear lobe length. Conversely though, we will seek out someone with a different immunity profile so as to produce offspring with a mixture of both parents’ immunities.
4. Men love red
It’s not just a cliché about scarlet women; studies have shown that men link the colour with romance, so a woman wearing red is often seen as more desirable. This is why love hearts are depicted as red, and at this time of year we find that practically every shop window is red. It’s also why our partners will often find us more attractive if we wear a red dress.
5. Women are more attracted to symmetrical faces.
A man with a symmetrical face is less likely to have “bad” genes and also likely to be more fertile, so women are genetically predispositioned to find this more attractive. Again, this is an evolutionary thing to ensure the survival of the species. It’s not a conscious thing to search out a man with a symmetrical face, but it does explain why some movie stars are considered to be universally attractive.
It’s fascinating to learn about the science of scent and love, but it’s also nice to just go with the flow and follow our instincts. It can become easy otherwise to over-analyse a situation and think to yourself that you only find this person attractive because of science and evolution - and that’s not a very romantic thought at all!